Suppose we have a small number of very close duplicates on some particular question. Suppose also that the questions are high quality and have high quality answers - at least, as measured by the StackExchange voting system. Should we necessarily close some of the questions as duplicates?

The answer, according to Jeff Atwood's StackOverflow blog post is definitely no. In fact, he argues that some duplication is good, as far as search optimization and expression of multiple viewpoints go.

This question is specifically motivated by the following two questions, the second of which was closed as a duplicate of the first - nearly four years after being asked:

Both questions have a lot of votes and have answers with a lot of votes. The answers have quite a different nature, however. The first one contains a rather encyclopedic list of references on the topic. The second one (that's now been closed) has two answers that play off of one another nicely and is much more self-contained. I think that both questions are quite valuable.

I'm certain that there are other duplicates - here's one, for example, that I think is nowhere near on the same level as the other two. It seems silly that this one is not closed. I would argue that the one that was closed was closed precisely because it is good enough to be visible. That seems odd.

In fairness, I should mention that I authored one of the answers for the closed question. Nonetheless, I'm of the opinion that the practice of closing questions as duplicates is to prevent dozens of duplicates from arising, rather than just a few, and that quality should be accounted for.

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    $\begingroup$ It seems to me you do not mention a single specific drawback of the duplicate closure. A plus is that the two questions, both still on the site, are now linked together in a systematic way. It is not clear to me what problem you see or want to solve. Is there a need for giving additional answers on the duplicate? That's the sole thing that is prevented now. (Future deletion is now possible but I doubt is practical concern.) $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ @quid There are many ways to link questions other than by duplicate closure. There are many problems with dupe closures, one of the main being that it greatly stagnates knowledge evolution of the site, i.e. if a question has old answers only of low quality, and every new related question is quickly closed as a dupe, then it will likely never receive better answers, since when new experts join the site they may never see the question if they don't look at closed questions (and even if they do they may not waste time posting in an ancient thread since the answer will get little exposure) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill re "and every new related question is quickly closed" I actually agree on this. However it seems completely orthogonal to the specific scenario raise in OP, which is expressly about (old) questions that are answered very well. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ @quid No, I did not mention a single specific drawback. Rather, I linked to a post by a StackExchange founder that listed several specific drawbacks. It seems clear that closure devalues content - which seems unfortunate, in this particular case. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 14:19
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    $\begingroup$ "It seems clear that closure devalues content" Actually, it is not clear to me how marking as a duplicate "devalues content." What seems clear is that you perceive it as a slight, but really there is no reason for it. What actually happens is that there is now an additional link to your thread. The point of post you link to is in my opinion quite different from what you make of it, and in any case the main point there is that it's not all that important if something is a duplicate or not. This goes either way. Really, I think it changes rather little if those two are marked as dupe or not. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ And if you care that much I think the rather simple and constructive approach would be to edit the questions slightly so that they are less of duplicates, which seems very possible along the lines you highlighted. The one asking for a more self-contained hands-on approach to complement the one with the reference. It could even link to it in doing so. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ The closure as a duplicate is done by regular users who earned the privilege. You can use this meta thread to ask for more opinions. It would not surprise me if your opinion is shared by others. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 15:59


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